Conservatives must be sceptical of state solutions to post Covid-19 problems

Conservatives must be sceptical of state solutions to post Covid-19 problems

by Jonathan Stanley
article from Monday 20, April, 2020

THE CHALLENGES of tackling a viral pandemic have exposed flaws in the current political system in ways not seen since perhaps the HIV epidemic at the end of the last century.

When faced with the choices of trading off economic and health costs in our management of the current Covid-19 crisis we have had to make the real decisions needed to walk the straight and narrow path between negligence of inaction and the futility of superlative and supercilious extremes. Every one of us for the first time in years – and for some of us the first time ever – have had to make compromises that matter for others more than they do for ourselves.

This is not a Dunkirk spirit or Falkland spirit any more than it is simply a spirit. Our modern materialistic society has touched on something metaphysical during this crisis and we must not lose that lesson. In taking these difficult choices we sought to justify our compromises, so that we did not lose too much liberty or take too little precaution to become sick. We learned how fragile our liberty is and how authoritarianism, to whom all authorities lean, can run away like a steam engine without a governor.

To quote the late William F. Buckley Jr. Conservatives are those standing athwart history yelling ‘stop’. We have had to rely as much on experience of other countries as we have on our own experts. Suddenly we are no longer tired of experts, only of self-appointed ones whose logic has not withstood the test of theory and whose plans have led us to worse outcomes than we otherwise should have endured.

It is those countries who controlled their borders early, isolated and tested suspected cases and drew from a supportive population that have done well. They have reduced their deaths from Covid-19 far more than Americans and Western Europeans. Strong national civic defence has been the hallmark of those who sought first to limit the spread of the virus and then reduce the number of dead to a minimum.

Those most eager and willing to adopt social distancing, restraint and avoid overcrowding and needless parallel imported cases of disease have succeeded in holding back the pandemic. By engaging in eccentric boffin-led modelling of a disease without any reliable data to model, our own governments in the UK engaged in a remarkable and immoral experiment on us. Far from being conservative, we have been subjected as a country to a radical and unwarranted plan of throwing caution to the wind in how we avoid harming the most vulnerable.

We remain under the strategy of herd immunity that relies on treating any of us as completely expendable and indeed bases its strategy on ensuring a number of us DO die as we slowly allow the infection to spread, and hopes only to "flatten the curve" so that in any one week the virus does not overwhelm ‘our NHS’ ITU capacity.

Where was this discussed and decided and by whom? Who made this call to not bother trying to prevent infection in the first place? Why are the airports still open and the Tube still running (black cabs were offering to ferry NHS workers)? Is there anyone in Cabinet who is not a complete incompetent?

We have found our shops have not been replenished as quickly as we'd hoped. We have our found our burgeoning state very unprepared for real crises and we can see that for many in government, who have never done a proper job, that the only crisis they are concerned about is a crisis of communication.

For too many in government managing the message is the only thing that matters and everything is else is perception that can be spun, hidden, underplayed and when that fails can be lied about continually, just has been the case with personal protective equipment.

The liberal wets in government, who care little for social bonds and responsibilities, have prioritised open borders and open skies over controlling a serious threat to the vulnerable in this country. No care was taken to protect them from harm at the earliest point, instead they thought it fit to place them in the same risk as the rest of us, knowing well they would far more likely die for it.

It is absolutely right in that case that conservatives should be increasingly cynical and sceptical of the absurdities imposed on us. How can it be right we cannot visit a second home we own when there are queues at Heathrow and the Tube is packed?

When the government of the day cannot take the narrow path that would close our borders while keeping our society open, why should the rest of us play with a straight bat? Little steps taken early could have avoided so much of the extremes we have seen in recent weeks.

Basing our decisions on reason, on science and on the wellbeing of our own people, especially whose most at risk must be the future, we can start with electing people who have actually managed real risk in their daily lives and in their professional practice.

Government by Jack the lad has been a car crash in handling a serious threat to national security. Hopefully when the lockdown lifts many of us will take a more serious approach to risk management, and a more reasoned one.

If only the government had spent the last three months preparing as much for Covid-19 as for pet projects like HS2 we would be on a par with Germany and not Italy for handling this disaster.

Dr Jonathan Stanley has returned to the NHS to help fight the pandemic.

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